Since I have been making an effort to conquer my clutter, I decided it was well past time to begin to conquer a major area of clutter: photos. I went through my home, gathering up every photo album and homeless photos, as well as a box full of photos that I have been meaning to sort through. When I finished my rounup and had them piled into my favorite chairs, I found that I had 8 photo albums full, not counting the homeless photos or the ones saved digitally on my pc. Wow. That is well over 800 photos. I have been complaining about not haivng photos for the beautiful scrapbook layouts that I have created, when in reality I have enough photos to fill every scrapbook in a department store!!

It was obvious it was time for this to be dealt with. Since I am on this conquest to eliminate photo clutter, I wanted to share what I hope will be some helpful advice in how to conquer your photo clutter.

(1) Corral all albums and homeless photos into one central location.

(2) Create two sort piles: LOVE and OTHER. Use boxes, plastic containers or whatever you have lying around. Pull that big rectangle food storage container out of the top of the cabinet – it won’t hurt to use it for this for a little while.

(3) SORT with Honesty. Put duplicate, blury or plain bad photos into the OTHER piles. Put all photos that you truly love into the LOVE pile. Break the sorting up by going through a small stack at a time (such as during commercial breaks). If the process seems to emotional or overwhelming, recruit a friend or family member that will help you to sort through it with honesty.

(4) RESORT. Go through the LOVE pile this time with brutal honesty. Are there some of the photos that should be in your child’s baby book or would be a wonderful addition to a scrapbook page? Is so, place those in the OTHER pile. Don’t keep a photo that you do not honestly want to look at regularly. Ask yourself why are you keeping that particular photo. If you are just keeping it to keep it, it is time to let it go.

(5) Make decisions about the OTHER pile. Bad photos can be trashed or even donated to a local school or church for crafts. Photos that belong in scrapbooks/baby books/Other special books need to be placed into an envelop and labeled clearly, and dated with an estimated ‘due date’ to be dealt with. Duplicate photos can be mailed to grandparents, friends, or given to neighbors. Be sure to set a “due date” to deal with these photos and carry it out, or else you will find yourself with the same clutter problem. 

(6) Put the photos you LOVE into proper homes. Photo boxes make easy storage, and can be easily customized. The Photos you LOVE belong in a place where than can be enjoyed frequently, not stuck in a box under your bed. A walk through the photo frame isle of your local store may spark you to look at your photos in whole new ways (ie, Photo cubes). Whatever method of storage or display that you choose, think wisely as not to create more clutter.

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I will begin with a confession – I am a recovering PackRat. A Hoarder of items that I defend as being sentimental. It is after years of complaining about not having enough space that I have had to sit down and be honest about the situation.

My Clutter is killing my budget. In the past 10 years, I have on adverage purchased 6 storage tubs ($4 each) in addition to many other “organizational items. That would be at least $240 that I have spent on hoarding in storage tubs alone! That is almost a car payment! Add to that $240 the purchase of storage crates, file boxes and other plastic containers, and in the past 10 years, I have probably spent between $400-$600 on hiding my junk! Admittingly, those honest numbers make me quite squimish and obviously, broke.

Money is not the only thing that my clutter has cost me in the past 10 years. To my clutter, I have sacrificed countless hours of trying to figure out which box is which; I have thrown away storage area that I need, precious space in my home, and probably a year’s supply of allergy medicine trying to sort through the boxes each year. Just on the broad sense, my clutter is costing me money I can not afford to throw away, space I do not really have, and possibly even my health. For the sake of more than frugality, getting a manageable hold on my clutter is a MUST.

(1) Have a plan/goal:
Having a plan to deal with your $ situation works in the same way as having a goal for cleaning works: you know what you are going to do. As I have been attempting to conquer my clutter, I have found that making a list and posting it in a highly visible location has caused me to stay more on task. Dealing with debt works the same way. Many famous finance authors
advise that making a visual reminder will keep you more on track.

(2) Pace yourself:
     The FLYlady website states that you must realize that a house doesn’t get in that condition overnight. I observe that our finances don’t get in a bad condition overnight. As I have been making efforts to conquer my clutter, I have found that I HAVE to pace myself. Pacing myself when I clean is not only helpful physically, but is actually helping me to get more accomplished.If you pace yourself when dealing with your finances, you will get more accomplished &
the plan will not drain you.

(3) Celebrate goals:
I indulge myself when I reach decluttering and cleaning goals. Oftern times, my indulgence is time spent relaxing or crafting. I believe that celebrating is essential whether it is in relation to cleaning goals or financial goals. By celebrating, you are in a sense rewarding your good habits. Although adults may have more debt and wrinkles than children, we like children repeat things because of a reward. Reward yourself in small ways for reaching goals. One things to keep in mind is not to let your reward damper your goal!

(4) Evaluate what works/what doesn’t:
As I have been decluttering and cleaning my home, I have found myself having to carefully evaluate whether my organizing/cleaning methods are working. I have had to rethink some of the methods I am using to clean/organize in order to make it work for me. Budgeting also has need for a time of evaluation. Take a look once a month or once a week even at what methods for debt elimination are working and which need scrapped for something new.
By taking the time to evalute what is and isn’t working in your debt elimination goals, you can learn what areas need extra care, which areas need a major repair. Evaluate often to make your money plan work for you.

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

Written by Judith Levine

Pros:
(1) Offers concrete proof that yes, it is possible to go one year without buying non-essential items
(2) Provides a true-life record of her year – the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens.
(3) Empowers readers with a fresh look at essential verses non-essential items

Cons:
(1) Language – some cursing.

Overall, this book is good read for those of us trying to live the frugal lifestyle. I enjoyed Judith’s candid honesty. I particularly enjoyed the structuring of the book, which made it an easy read even in the midst of my busy lifestyle.

I grew up poor. Because we did not have much to begin with, we learned the value of making every use we could from what we had. Perhaps that background and recent financial pitfalls have revived my desire not to be wasteful. Wasteful living is not thrifte living.

 

Take for instance the garbage that just one person produces in a day. How much of what we throw away could have been repurposed? As I ask this, I stare down into the garbage can that sits beside of my desk. Contents: some damaged 3 ½ inch disks, a cardboard box that a printer cartridge came in, and the sheets that labels came on. Since the disks were damaged beyond repair – physically, they wouldn’t make good craft objects, but I can recycle the cardboard box & repurpose the label backs into a little notepad. Notepads are easily made by cutting any paper & simply stapling onto a scrap of cardboard. With my two little mini-artists, those little notepads are wonderful! Think twice about what you throw away. If you don’t tend to be a creative person, use search engines to help you find multiple ways to repurpose items. Taking daily inventory of what you dispose of is not only economical and environmental; Repurposing is just one way to eliminate wastefulness.